Inaugural meeting of Council's Union Connectivity group sets sights on future prosperity
Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's Union Connectivity group met today (THURSDAY) to lay out its blueprint to bolster economic, social and cultural relations across the four UK regions.
Key to the group's work is Mid and East Antrim's role within the Government's current UK Connectivity Review. The review, led by Sir Peter Hendy, is examining how best to improve road, rail, air and sea links between all four UK regions and to bring forward funding to accelerate infrastructure projects. Back in January, Elected Members approved Council’s response to a call for evidence.
At today's meeting, Mid and East Antrim Borough Council's Union Connectivity group discussed a range of vital matters considered key to strengthening east-west links and shared prosperity as the Government works to level out the economy post Covid-19.
Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Peter Johnston said:
“Strong Union Connectivity is more important than ever and that is why we have established a dedicated group within Council to place our area at the very heart of plans to build on our links with our counterparts in Scotland, England and Wales.
"For generations, Mid and East Antrim has been the gateway to Northern Ireland for our fellow UK citizens in Great Britain.
"Looking forward, we are committed to protecting and growing east-west trade and strengthening our supply chain, so that the flow of goods, visitors and services is seamless and beneficial to all our citizens.
"We continue to follow closely the discussions around physical infrastructure linking our regions, and while those are taking place, we are working hard to build on our virtual bridge for shared economic prosperity."
Deputy Mayor Andrew Wilson said:
"I commend the Council for its pragmatic approach to Union Connectivity and the work of our group will be extremely important in ensuring our Borough can fully realise its potential in terms of economic growth through trade and our exceptional supply chain.
"We are proud to be home to a number of world-leading manufacturing firms, for example, and we have all the ingredients to build on our reputation as the traditional engine room of the Northern Ireland economy."
Alderman Billy Ashe MBE said:
"Mid and East Antrim must be at the very front of the queue when it comes to major investment in infrastructure and the levelling up of our economy, as set out by the Government.
"Our group and this Council is adamant that strong Union Connectivity is essential not only for our Borough's future, but the future of all four UK regions.
"As we have heard from the North Channel Partnership, strategic investment in the A75/A77 roads would be massive in terms of unlocking economic potential on both sides of the channel, and this is just one project in the pipeline.
"Easier access and fit-for-purpose transport links are also key to growing our tourism industry, which has been devastated by Covid-19 but offers huge potential in terms of investment and spend in Mid and East Antrim. We share so much history and culture with our Scottish, English and Welsh counterparts and we need to really build on that and celebrate it."
Councillor Timothy Gaston said:
"In this, the centenary year of Northern Ireland, we are proud to celebrate the formation and continued success of our country and our rich history, heritage and culture.
"It is crucial we do all we can to promote and support Union Connectivity and build on our links and relationships for the benefit of all."
Sir Peter published the ‘Union Connectivity Review Interim Report’ recently, which made specific reference to Mid and East Antrim, noting the Borough as having one of the highest productivity levels across the UK.
The final Union Connectivity report will be submitted to the UK Government this summer highlighting a number of recommendations for future investment in transport between the nations of the UK.